A man from Knoxville, Tennessee, was found dead Aug. 5 in a remote section of the park near Balsam Mountain on the North Carolina side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, according to a National Park news release. Service.
Bryce Evans, 23, was reported missing by his family earlier this week.
Park rangers located his vehicle parked at the Balsam Mountain trailhead near Pin Oak Gap on Heintooga Ridge Road around 7:45 p.m. on August 4. They closed the road and searched the immediate area with Cherokee Police and Fire Department emergency responders. departments, according to the press release.
On August 5, emergency responders from the National Park Service and the Cherokee Police, Fire, and Emergency Management Departments assisted in searching the area. Within hours, they found Evans about 20 yards from the trailhead, about 1.5 miles from the Balsam Mountain Trailhead parking lot, around 11:15 a.m.
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According to a Facebook post by Evans’ sister, Analiese Evans, Bryce had been missing since July 31:
“My brother Bryce has been missing since Sunday, no one has seen or heard from since 1pm on the 31st. His phone was turned off. He was on his way back to Charlotte, NC from Knoxville. His last known location was the area around Cherokee, NC. He drives a gray 2017 Nissan Altima with 4LO-8L5 license plate. He is 6’3” tall and weighs 185 lbs. Please if you know anything or have seen/talked to him contact me or my family. “
Other posts from family members say Bryce was an Eagle Scout and a member of the Tennessee National Guard.
The Smokies is the nation’s most visited national park with some 14.1 million visitors in 2021. It spans half a million acres of rugged, mostly isolated forested terrain on the border between western of North Carolina and eastern Tennessee.
Rangers say there are around 100 search and rescue operations a year in the park.
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This is the second death reported in the Smokies in just over a week. On July 27, a 7-year-old girl was killed when a large red maple tree fell on the tent where she was sleeping with her family at Elkmont Campground, on the park side in Tennessee.
Spokeswoman Dana Soehn said the tree was removed and on August 1 the campsite reopened. She said she would not release any further details “in the interest of protecting the privacy of the children involved”.
Karen Chávez is a content coach/investigations editor for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA TODAY Network. Tips? Call 828-712-6316, email [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @KarenChavezACT.